In the previous essay I invited you to choose one soul element (virtue or character strength) from the Perpetual Blossom of Soul Elements—If you haven’t done so, please do so now. In this essay, you’ll begin working with the soul element you’ve selected through engaging in a Tantric treasure hunt. The Tantric treasure hunt is a two-fold spiritual adventure involving an inner treasure hunt (self-reflective process) and an exterior, or external treasure hunt (outer directed process).1
It’s called a Tantric treasure hunt because it celebrates the use of the six senses and the power of symbols as portals to Oneness.2 In the Tantric treasure hunt you set off in search of the soul element you’ve selected—first through looking within and then through searching the symbolic terrain. You are asked to surrender your mental, emotional and cultural conditioning and to use your senses to reveal and revel.
Part One: Inner Treasure Hunt
The Tantric treasure hunt asks us to begin by looking within our mind stream for the soul element we’re seeking. This is a form of active meditation in which you focus your mind on the soul element you’ve selected, allowing your mental landscape to fill with associated thoughts, images, and sounds. Set aside 10-20 minutes to engage in this way. Don’t worry if you don’t come up with much—chances are you haven’t had a reason to place your concentrated attention solely upon the soul element you’ve selected. I’ve pointed out in a previous essay that soul elements tend to be taken for granted unless or until they are missing from our lives (like the presence of air). Use your journal to record the memories, associations, and symbols that come up for you—all of them—the good, the bad, and the ugly.3 As you begin to engage with the second part of the Tantric Treasure Hunt, more memories and personal associations will surface.
Part Two: Exterior Treasure Hunt
The Path of Sensuous Mystic is an integral path that enables us to focus on a variety of experiential modalities. It is unique in asking us to use new media technologies as tools for spiritual research, reflection, and self-expression. To this point, the second part of the Tantric treasure hunt involves using your senses to journey through the symbolic terrain—the fertile field of forms—in search of manifestations of the soul element in question. To be more specific, you will look for representations of the soul element you’re seeking in artwork, poetry, lyrics, movies, and so forth. You are invited to do this through visiting museums, libraries, theatres, houses of worship, and other cultural treasure troves, but you are also encouraged to use the Internet. The goal of the Tantric treasure hunt is to become intimate with the soul element you’ve selected through exploring it across multiple traditions and from multiple perspectives—without becoming fixated on one culture, or historic epoch.4 Expand your horizons by thinking of the World Wide Web as a passport granting you entry to all countries, a time machine capable of propelling you across the centuries, and a free pass to some of the finest museums in the world. Think of the Web as a lattice upon which you can weave an open-ended pattern of discovery.
To give some direction to your search for the soul element “treasure,” I’ve broken the symbolic terrain into four major areas and provided suggestions within each. These are only meant to set you on your way—do not be limited by them.
The Written Word
Literature & Popular Fiction
Proverbs, Adages, Aphorism,
Fables & Nursery Rhymes
Jokes & Riddles
The Graven Image
The Way of the Body
The Way of the Hybrid
Body Art – Combines the Graven Image with The Way of the Body
Conceptual Art – Combines Everything with Social Action
To keep up with the treasure you find online, create a new document, label it with the name of the soul element you’re seeking, and fill it with the information you find—images, text, and links to favorite webpages. If you prefer tactile work to computer work, you are encouraged to transcribe favorite quotations and passages into your journal and to print or paste favorite images there. Later on we’ll be doing more “hands-on” work with the treasures you’ve found, for the moment your main goal is simply finding them.
In the next essay I’ll introduce you to Divine Synaesthesia, an immersive practice in which you’ll use your senses, in a delightfully mixed-up way, to explore the soul element you’ve selected and the treasures you’ve found. It’s about sniffing courage, tasting beauty, and hearing hope; it’s about coloring determination and dancing trust. It’s about freeing our senses to make love to our soul—soul element by soul element.
- As mentioned in the previous essay, from here on out you’ll need a journal, preferably a large journal with unlined pages, as well as access to the Internet, a handful of art supplies, printer, glue, and a pair of scissors. A personal computer is also a plus, though not required.
- The term Tantra is being used to pay homage to various aspects of the vast Tantric tradition. It is beyond the scope of this essay to delve into the history and/or practice of Tantra. Readers interested in learning more about Tantra are referred to Georg Feuerstein’s introductory book, Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy.
- Don’t be surprised if negative manifestations of the soul element you’ve chosen to work with arise. For example, if you’ve chosen to work with “courage” you might find that various fears arise. This is normal. We have been conditioned to think in terms of opposites. Write down whatever comes up. Rather than permitting your attention to get caught up in the negative manifestation, turn your attention back to the positive form. If the negative manifestations are recurrent and seem to be problematic, seek out a qualified psychologist with Jungian, transpersonal, or integral training. The Shadow is a powerful tool for working with Spirit, but is best approached with proper guidance.
- Be fearless in your exploration. You’ll be invited to narrow your collection down later on; for now, the goal is exposure and opening to the many forms Spirit has taken in order to communicate the various nuances of the soul element in question.
Feuerstein, G. (1998).Tantra: The Path of Ecstasy. Boston: Shambhala Publications.
Psychologist exploring the impact of digital technologies on the mythic and moral dimensions of humanity; passionately curious about the conscious use of interactive technologies to advance secular ethics and spirituality qualities such as altruism and compassion. Integral scholar and Dzogchen practitioner.